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New Dean Street access to Route 95

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Photo by Jef Nickerson

On Monday, RIDOT will open new access from Dean Street northbound to 6/10 Connector inbound which provides direct access to Route 95 north and south.

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Photo by Jef Nickerson

RIDOT will open the new left turn lane on Dean Street after the Monday morning rush. Prior to this left turn being open, access from Dean Street to the 6/10 Connector has been limited to southbound Dean Street traffic only. Northbound traffic was forced to make various loops on local streets to reach 6/10. The removal of the Broad Street ramp to Route 95 southbound as part of the Iway project has limited the ability of traffic from Federal Hill to reach 95 south. Traffic approaching the old Broad Street onramp has been detoured to Allens Avenue via Point Street to a temporary onramp at Blackstone Street. Traffic heading south of 6/10 on 95 has been encouraged to get on Route 10 south via Broadway.

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While on the rare occasion that I have a car and drive in the area, I’ve found access from Dean Street to 95 south to be vexing, I am a bit disappointed by this new intersectionchange. It has no doubt been confusing to not have the Broad Street ramp, even Google tells people to make an illegal u-turn at West Exchange Street to reach 95 south from Federal Hill. But the fact is, we have access to 6/10 south to 95 south. If you need to reach 95 between the city and 6/10, there will eventually be a ramp to 95 south from Point Street, replacing the lost Broad Street ramp. There has not been a left turn here for time immemorial, so why the need for it now?

Yes, it will move traffic better from the Hill onto Route 95, but at what cost? The cost of pedestrians I think. While I’ve personally given up trying to be a pedestrian on the Dean Street viaduct (I had a meeting at The Foundry earlier this week which I walked to via the mall), that shouldn’t be the way it is.

It is approximately 1 mile as the crow flies from Francis Street to the Atwells Avenue bridge over the 6/10 Connector, and the only place to cross 6/10 on foot within that mile is the Dean Street viaduct. As I discussed in my Dean Street REBOOT post, the pedestrian environment on the Dean Street viaduct is a disaster. As someone who has lived in cities all my adult life, car-free, I am an aggressive pedestrian, but the Dean Street viaduct has me beat, it is too dangerous for me. But being the only foot connection between Federal Hill and Smith Hill/Valley/Promenade, people still risk their lives walking over it daily.

By creating traffic movements that were not possible before, and maintaining a highway design, RIDOT is bringing more highspeed traffic into this area, putting pedestrians even more at risk.

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Photos by Jef Nickerson

Prior to this reconstruction, Dean Street had four lanes here, with a median providing a shelter for pedestrians making their way across Dean Street. The new configuration boosts Dean Street to 5 lanes with no median for pedestrians to seek shelter on. While there are working (for now at least) walk lights at this intersection, a 5 lane road within the city limits is just not good street building.

The economy has cooled off the redevelopment of the Promenade area with ALCO slowing down and a hotel proposal seemingly off the table; but the city still wants to see development and investment in the Promenade, and this poor economy will (hopefully) end someday. Without proper pedestrian connections between the Promenade and Federal Hill, the full potential of both areas will be stunted. The city and state (as owner of the Viaduct) need to work toward improving this vital pedestrian link. This new intersection on Dean Street and it’s design are a step in the wrong direction.

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Photo by Jef Nickerson

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5 Responses to New Dean Street access to Route 95

  1. Miguel October 23, 2009 at 3:31 pm #

    I actually notice this construction a few months ago and thought “It’s about time”. Restricting Route 6/10 access to Dean St. southbound was simply not efficient or reasonable. This opening here makes common sense.

    How much time & fuel is wasted by people having to drive around Providence Place to access 95 from Memorial Blvd because they cannot access it here? Not to mention the many drivers who have risked the dangerous U-Turn there daily.

    The viaduct has a sidewalk on the southbound side. While it’s not as wide as a Manhattan pedestrian thoroughfare, it’s wide enough to allow access over the bridge.

    As long as the lights are allow sufficient time for a pedestrian to cross in the well-marked and new crosswalk, I have no problem with it. I have no sympathy for those people who cross over the viaduct and “take shelter” on the narrow median strip of concrete. Crossing should not be done there.

  2. Jef Nickerson October 23, 2009 at 3:36 pm #

    Have you ever walked over the viaduct? The width of the sidewalk is not the issue, the fact that every crossing is blind for pedestrians is the problem.

    I actually never considered walking in the center median, I think if I ever had to walk over the viaduct again, that would actually be the safest place to do so. Seriously, I’m not kidding.

    I don’t so much care that the new access has been created (but seriously, we’ve gone without it forever), it is the design of the intersection that bothers me. All the traffic on the viaduct is about hurry up and go nowhere. The viaduct is basically a highway with traffic lights at either end. Sure you can get driving up to 50mph when there’s no traffic, but then you just have to stop at the lights at either end.

  3. Jim October 23, 2009 at 11:48 pm #

    The whole road needs to go on a diet. There’s no reason it should be 2 lanes both ways to begin with. Most of the people that travel it can be more creative in finding a different route to the highway, but they use that because it’s quicker with the 2 lanes.

    I agree with Miguel. As someone who lived on the hill with a car, it was frustrating to have to get on 10 at Broadway or Harris. The reason being that you have to cross 2 lanes of traffic to get onto 10 in under a mile and people in this state aren’t usually willing to let you in. It sucked once they got rid of the Broad St on ramp to 95.

    This will also spread out some of the traffic trying to get to 95 North from the Hill. Instead of everyone trying to get on at the Service Road by the Hilton, some will take Dean St.

    I don’t think this makes it that much more difficult for pedestrians. They didn’t really re-work a whole lot of the sidewalk space other than getting rid of the median.

    The one thing I wish they did do was paint lane markers all the way to Atwells on the southbound side. It becomes a huge clusterf*** after you pass the light for the highway entrance/exit.

  4. Miguel October 29, 2009 at 1:51 pm #

    The lack of lane markers in the city is a pet peeve of mine. The city seriously lacks any type proper maintenance of lane markers. I see the problem everywhere.

    And where people don’t see lane markers, they make there own lanes. I get this problem all the time on Reservoir Ave in the Reservoir Triangle, from the defunct Stop & Shop (where they should build a Super Walmart!) to Roger Williams Ave.

    The problem also exists on many roads downtown.

    But back to Dean St, I just think that the street is an oddity. It’s sort of like the Branch Ave overpass of I-95, which is almost deserted and barren most of the time, but a major (and dangerous) artery during rush hours.

  5. Jim November 4, 2009 at 3:47 pm #

    Dean St is not quite as barren as the Branch Ave overpass. Later at night, it’s dead, but it’s always busy during the day. This is why it needs proper lane markers the entire length.

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